John David Mercer-US PRESSWIRE

Les Miles Waiting, Instead of Leading

The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.   – Martin Luther King, Jr.


During the campaign to replace Bill Clinton as president, a minor controversy rose over Al Gore’s hiring of author Naomi Wolf as a sort of style consultant. Over the course of the campaign, Gore’s wardrobe changed to earth tones as he tried to appeal to women; then back to business suits as he attempted to appear presidential.

Regardless of your politics, it can’t be denied that one thing Americans desire in their leader is a self-confidence and the quality of being comfortable in one’s own skin. Al Gore, whatever his policies, always seemed to need someone to tell him what kind of man he was.

As the recriminations continue on the Bayou over LSU’s failure to even score against Alabama, resentment and criticism boils just below the surface in a way not seen in the SEC since the marriage of convenience between Tommy Tuberville and Auburn began to unravel.

A recent commentary from Central Louisiana asks whether Les Miles can learn and adjust based on the resounding defeat at the hands of the Crimson Tide. It’s true enough that coaches must constantly adapt to conditions on the ground. Personnel must be managed – both on the field and on the sidelines – and strategy has to be adjusted to the ever-shifting landscape. But the fact that such questions need to be asked about a head coach with the resume of Les Miles points to the issue of credibility.

Sure, Miles is a likable guy; a player’s coach. He’s also a media darling, his eccentric behavior and goofy demeanor playing well for the storyline-driven coverage that trades hardcore fans for a broader casual audience. Now however, the totality of LSU’s defeat has the same media questioning whether Miles’ approach is the right thing, after all.

“Miles also needs to realize that football is not always about emotion and momentum and having fun and waiting for the Honey Badger or someone else to do something,” the commentary advises. Noting that Miles said LSU kept waiting for a game-changing play, the author continues, “Coaches can’t always wait. Sometimes they have to try things or switch quarterbacks to create such plays.”

It’s true that much of this is armchair quarterbacking. But the fact is, the same Louisiana media that preferred Miles’ laissez-faire loopiness to Saban’s driven dictatorship now want The Hat to become The Sensible Shoes. And as perception hardens into reality, the issue becomes:  Les Miles is a grown man. If he hasn’t yet learned how to lead, what makes anyone believe he ever will?

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